Monday, April 20, 20099
The FBI were spying on Tea Party protesters nationwide during last week’s demonstrations as part of a covert program conducted without the knowledge of local law enforcement, according to a source named as a current FBI agent.
The Northeast Intelligence Network reports that a concerned unnamed FBI agent risked his career in blowing the whistle on the fact that Tea Party protesters were subject to covert surveillance.
The FBI agent allegedly told Doug Haggman, “The Department of Homeland Security Intelligence Assessment that is receiving so much attention is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and the true patriotic citizens of this country are on the Titanic. This is what bothers me. But is goes far beyond that assessment. There have been very significant changes made over the last few years that redirect the focus and assets of the intelligence community internally. These changes have greatly accelerated under this administration, and the threats have been redefined to include those who used to be patriots. It’s not only chilling but absolutely insulting to God-fearing Americans.”
The source claims that a single page FBI directive was dispatched from FBI headquarters in Washington DC on March 23 requesting that Special Agents in Charge (SACs) “verify the date, time and location of each TEA Party within their region and supply that information to FBI headquarters in Washington.”
Agents were then instructed to compile information on the organizers of the different protests and also send the information back to FBI headquarters. On April 6, they were subsequently asked to conduct covert surveillance and data collection of the protesters attending the Tea Party demonstrations. Surveillance was to be performed from “discreet fixed or mobile positions” and was to be performed “independently and outside of the purview of local law enforcement,” according to the source.
Although the level of detail collected from each operation is unclear, the information was reportedly submitted to Washington, where, “at the level of the National Security Branch (NSB), this information was to “include the office of the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), and integrated with a restricted access database, one that reportedly is accessible to only two agencies” [of the 14 agencies that comprise the U.S. intelligence community, according to the source.
“The implications to the citizens of the U.S. are ominous. It seems that there is a hostile political agenda coming from Washington that characterizes the supporters of our constitutional freedoms as threats to our domestic security, which is totally absurd. The redirection, the refocusing of domestic threats from al Qaeda cells to ‘flag waving right-wingers’ is something that has gone from a murmur a few years ago to a roar today.”
The notion that the FBI would be conducting covert surveillance and building databases on attendants of the Tea Party protests is thoroughly disturbing if not unsurprising. Indeed, before any major political event the FBI prosecutes aggressive surveillance of political groups to the point of harassment and beyond. Before the 2004 Republican Convention, the FBI initiated a nationwide campaign to track down leaders of protest groups and interrogate them, as “part of a national effort to chill dissent in this country,” according to William Dobbs, the spokesman for United for Peace and Justice.
Not long after 9/11, the FBI returned to tactics that were first made infamous during the days of J. Edgar Hoover, by collecting extensive information on anti-war and other protest groups. To highlight the non-partisan threat of the police state, the FBI is now treating so-called “right-wingers” and conservatives with the same disdain. Basically anyone who seeks to exercise their constitutional rights to peaceably assemble and express free speech is considered a threat and even a potential terrorist, as a recent Homeland Security directive implied.
From 1956 to 1971, the FBI’s COINTELPRO program worked to monitor and disrupt protest movements across America as part of an effort to stifle dissent. FBI Director Hoover ordered FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of these movements and their leaders. The final report of the Church Committee, which was tasked with investigating the legality of the program, concluded that the FBI had performed “unsavory and vicious tactics” in undertaking “secret surveillance of citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, even when those beliefs posed no threat of violence or illegal acts on behalf of a hostile foreign power.”
As we reported last week, The Maryland National Guard was put on alert in anticipation of the nationwide Tea Party protests, while a Homeland Security spokesman refused to deny that protesters would be under surveillance from the DHS.
The Maryland National Guard issued a Force Protection Advisory on April 11 which warned the National Guard to be on alert during the Tea Party protests because Guardsmen and Guard facilities might become “targets of opportunity.” The contact point for the document was listed as the Antiterrorism Program Coordinator.
The advisory was almost exactly the same as a United States Army Reserve Command Force Protection Advisory that was issued last November before the nationwide End the Fed protests, warning that protesters were congregating across the country to demonstrate against the private Federal Reserve.
During an interview on the Roger Hedgecock Show before last week’s demonstrations, Sean Smith, Assistant Secretary of DHS for Public Affairs, refused to deny that Homeland Security officials would be spying on Tea Party protesters when pressed by Hedgecock.
“Is the department sending people to video or record in any way the Tea Parties?” asked Hedgecock during the interview.
“Um, I can’t speak to sort of things that are law enforcement sensitive. Um, so I can’t speak to any current law enforcement operations,” responded Smith.
FBI surveillance of Tea Party protesters highlights the fact that the architecture of the police state, which was massively expanded under George W. Bush, has not been dismantled or relaxed by an Obama administration that promised “change,” and if anything has only grown bigger.
The Obama administration’s announcement that the illegal warrantless surveillance of American citizens, a program initiated under Bush, will continue and in fact intensify under Obama, is another shining example of the fact that – no matter who is in power and no matter the political persuasion of those being watched – all Americans who have the temerity to exercise constitutional rights are considered dangerous and worthy of being targeted by the federal government with surveillance tools supposedly introduced to fight terrorists.